There is one difference between winners and losers when it comes to web analytics. Winners, well before they think data or tool, have a well structured Digital Marketing & Measurement Model. Losers don't.
This article guides you in understanding the value of the Digital Marketing & Measurement Model (notice the repeated emphasis on Marketing, not just Measurement), and how to create one for yourself. At the end you'll also find some additional examples to inspire you.
The root cause of failure in most digital marketing campaigns is not the lack of creativity in the banner ad or TV spot or the sexiness of the website. It is not even (often) the people involved. It is quite simply the lack of structured thinking about what the real purpose of the campaign is and a lack of an objective set of measures with which to identify success or failure.
I've developed the Digital Marketing & Measurement Model as a simple, structured, five step process to infuse this much needed thinking. Here is what each step in the process helps accomplish:
Step one is to force us to identify the business objectives upfront and set the broadest parameters for the work we are doing. Sr. Executives play a key role in this step.
Step two is to identify crisp goals for each business objective. Executives lead the discussion, you’ll play a contributing role.
Step three is to write down the key performance indicators. You’ll lead the work in this step, in partnership with a “data person” if you have one.
Step four is to set the parameters for success upfront by identifying targets for each KPI. Organization leaders play a key role here, with input from Marketing and Finance.
Step five, finally, is to identify the segments of people / behavior / outcomes that we’ll analyze to understand why we succeed or failed.
Simple, right? It is harder than you might think, “soft” work always is. Before we go into each step in detail I want to share something extremely critical. The scope/breadth the model has to cover.
A complete, and competent, Digital Marketing & Measurement Model will focus on three key areas of your marketing, and in each answer the cluster of questions provided:
- How are you anticipating acquiring traffic for your website / YT video / whatever else you are creating? Did you cover all three components of successful acquisition: Earned, Owned, Paid media? How would you prioritize each? Where are you spending most of your efforts?
- What is the behavior you are expecting when people arrive? What pages should they see? What videos should they watch? Should they visit repeatedly? Are there certain actions they should take? What is unique about your effort that ties to an optimal experience for a customer?
- What outcomes signify value delivered to the business bottom-line? A download? A phone call to your call center? A qualified online lead? Signing up for email promotions? People buying your product / services ? A 95% task completion rate? A 10 point lift in brand perception?
Simply put: Why are we undertaking this digital initiative?
My sincerest hope is that these questions will seed your discussions as you go through the five steps below. If your Digital Marketing & Measurement Model does not cover all three areas of your digital effort, then it is not complete. Please consider revisiting it. Don’t accept a mediocre model.
With that macro thought out of the way, let’s get going and look at a real example of the five step process to solidify this concept.
The business we are doing this for is a real estate company. I’ve picked a tough one because the main outcome is offline success. If they can create a good model then your job is much much easier!
Step 1: Identify the Business Objectives.
Ask this question: Why does your website/campaign exist? (Think of acquisition, behavior and outcomes.)
This is a difficult question to answer because it requires more thinking that you might anticipate. If you do it right at the end of step one you’ll have something that looks like this:
Identifying the business objectives mandates a discussion, multiple discussions, with the senior-most leaders in your company and working with them / sweet-talking their egos and hearts with gentle encouragement, to identify why the site / campaign / digital marketing invitiative exists.
Based on those discussions, in our case, we’ve identified three objectives: Create awareness, generate leads for the builders and highlight community events.
Here’s a great test. Your objectives should be DUMB:
If they are too out there, you'll never get anywhere. If they are too vague, nothing will get done. If they are too lame, they'll inspire no one. Go for real world, clear, executable and those that deliver value to the company (short term and long).
Are your objectives dumb?
Pro Tip: One way to ensure success is to forget that you are creating a set of videos or that you are building a site to host downloads of pdfs or that you are trying to mimic a campaign from Europe. Really, really, really think hard about why you are doing what you are doing. Get the answer from your executive/client.
Step 2: Identify Goals for each Objective.
Drilling down to identify website/campaign Goals requires critical thinking from both the Management, Marketers, and the Analysts – with Management in the leadership role.
My definition: Goals are specific strategies you'll leverage to accomplish the business objectives.
After going through some of the acquisition, behavior questions with stakeholders, here’s our model:
Clean. Has a clear direct line between Goal and each objective. Provides immense clarity.
To deliver on "Create Awareness," in this case, the site needs to support all the offline efforts along with having a relevant online traffic acquisition strategy.
"Generating Leads" comprises the twin goals of providing all kinds of information that will help potential home buyers to make their decision and to collect e-newsletter registrations as well as e-requests for an onsite tour of the model home by the builder.
Finally, "Highlight Events" is for prospective home buyers (visitors to our site). By making them happy with delightful events, at the construction site hopefully in model homes for sale, they can be converted into Net Promoters (to others) and Buyers (themselves).
These goals provide clarity, but they also contain large chunks of specific marching orders for what the Marketers and Analysts need to get done.
Pro Tip: This is super key: Macro + Micro Conversions! If the goals identified don’t cover all the jobs the site/campaign is doing then you might need to revisit your work.
Step 3: Identify the Key Performance Indicators.
Finally we get to deal with data!! I know you’ve been dying to get here. You’ll be the ideas leader here.
My definition: A key performance indicator (KPI) is a metric that helps you understand how you are doing against your objectives.
For each goal, sweat, and find the most hyper relevant KPI. This is what it will look like:
So amazing right?
I am sure your head is buzzing with all the possibilities for custom reports and things to report on, and how much clearer it is what you are supposed to do! Awesome, but hold your horses. We have two more steps to complete. Stay with me.
Pro Tip: Try to look for smart KPIs? Here’s specific guidance to help you…
Pick super awesome key performance indicators that truly reveal success or failure.
Step 4: Identify the Targets.
It is heartbreaking how few people complete this step. It is absolutely critical, in so many ways.
My definition: Targets are numerical values you’ve pre-determined as indicators of success or failure.
Why do you need targets? Consider this: You had an amazing campaign on YouTube. You got 1.2 million views. Is that great or awful? How do you decide? That is why you need targets!
Ok, so you also need them to plan your site / campaign / marketing initiative better. If you were responsible for getting 5 million visits in a month would you execute your campaign differently than if that number was 500k? Or if you were supposed to reach 1,000 CMO’s would you remember not to use Social Media as your primary acquisition strategy? That’s also why you need targets.
Targets can come from historical performance (how you did last time you / someone did something similar). They can come from other efforts (if my one hour long boring video can get 30k views in a week, should your two min peppy video get 1.2 million views?).
Seek people who are accountable (client, management, Finance), they will help you identify targets for each KPI.
Your Digital Marketing & Measurement Model will now look like this…
Now everyone knows what the company is shooting for. When you crack open Google Analytics, or other tools you’re using, you'll immediately jump with joy or weep when you see the KPI. You'll instantly know what is good and what is bad.
Pro Tip: If you have no targets then make something up. Use a number that if reached won’t embarrass you / your management / me. :) That is a good start; you can revise the number next month after you get the first blush of data. What’s important is that you never measure without having some sense of what good or bad performance looks like. The more experience you have, the better you’ll get at setting targets. Good targets.
Step 5: Identify valuable Segments for analysis.
This last part is one that is particularly meaningful to me because of its incredible value.
My definition: A group of people, their sources, onsite behavior, and outcomes.
When you log into Google Analytics or any other data source you are deluged by data and you could go in a million different directions.
Remember: We not only wanted focus, we wanted hyper-focus.
Take 10 more minutes from the key executives. Have a discussion with them about what the most important segments to focus on are for each goal.
Identify the sources of traffic, types of people desirable, their attributes, their behavior, business outcomes that they care about the most. And what customers to the site might want to accomplish. Balance for the company and the customers.
You’ll provide leadership here and if you did a great job then your DMMM will look something like this:
What groups of visitors were important? What visitor behavior is desirable? What a traffic source was Marketing focused on? Who are we trying to attract? What on our site is important – at least according to us? And more such questions are important to answer to get to the optimal segments.
Pro Tip: How to Identify Analytics Segments. Read. Act. Enough said.
Hallelujah, praise the lord you are done!
This was a lot of work, but I assure you that at this point you will thank God and your Cat that you worked this hard. You now have a structure that will guide your measurement efforts. The insights you derive will be of value because they are grounded in what’s important to the business and the leadership. And when you make recommendations based on data… guess what… action will be taken. Worth it, right?
Here's the sexiness: You now know what's important and where to start and what to focus on. Your boss/client knows what success or failure looks like and how to connect her/his business objectives to your data. Prioritized business focus for relevant data analysis!
You have the basis of a solid contract. Get the DMMM signed (preferably in blood!) so that all parties are clear on what everyone is supposed to be solving for.
Punch-line: Always, always, always work with the above "Marketing & Measurement contract" in hand.
Two Bonus Items.
Some of you might have noticed that I’d eliminated the Tour Conversions KPI in step five. That was simply to make the image in step five looks prettier. But worry not, with that KPI included our Digital Marketing & Measurement Model will have this beautiful final form…
Can we run the most fantastically actionable web analytics program in any company now? Yes we can!
One last gift for you.
When you create your own Digital Marketing & Measurement Model you don't have to use the format I've used above, you can add to it as you see fit.
I wanted to share with you a different format, and example. Below is the model for a retail e-commerce website with an online and offline presence:
I hope that the two examples in this blog post will help inspire you to use the Digital Marketing & Measurement Model as the foundation of your web analytics efforts.
I believe, with every fiber of my being, that this is will empower magnificent success.